Cristina Fernández de Kirchner returned to Congress on Wednesday to take up her Senate seat and begin what is likely to become a drawn-out and dramatic defence of the integrity of her debilitated political career.
In a typically long and eloquent speech, Fernández de Kirchner took aim at judge Claudio Bonadio and suggested that President Maurcio Macri’s national government and its coalition in Congress were working with Bonadio’s office to aggravate the legal situation she faces surrounding the 1994 AMIA bombing cover-up.
“On December 7, Bonadio signed a resolution accusing me of the crime of treason and of cover-up in the AMIA bombing case. With the expeditiousness that all cases should have, that same day a request is made in this chamber to strip me of my immunity,” she said, using Senate privileges that allow senators to defend themselves against supposed attacks on their integrity.
“I’ve heard coalition senators say that a committee is needed to deal with the stripping of my immunity and in March they would decide on it. This does not require a committee,” Fernández de Kirchner added. “It can be dealt with with two thirds of the Senate.”
The former president, criticised for having missed her first Budget committee session as a Senator this week, promised she would “debate everything” during her term in the Upper House.
She also took aim at the government for its alleged “persecution of opposition leaders” and said the judiciary, in alleged cahoots with the national government, was showing a “double standard.”
“The Judiciary is being used to stigmatise” opposition figures, she claimed.
TENSIONS WITH MICHETTI
In reference to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that her government signed with Iran over the 1994 AMIA bombing investigation —and which is at the heart of allegations she and her government colluded with Iran to exchange immunity for trade— she took aim at Senate leader, Vice-President Gabriella Michetti.
“A memorandum of understanding is complex, it requires the approval of Parliament,” she said, adding that judge Daniel Rafecas who had decided that the vote on said MoU “was not a crime” is “today subject to an impeachment process; and he is the same judge who dismissed the allegations against you (Michetti) for the Memorandum with Qatar which never passed through Parliament,” she charged.
In her decade-long absence from the Lower House, Fernández de Kirchner became a popular but scandalous president. She currently faces a number of legal battles including over alleged money-laundering.